Is there anything better than the sweet taste of fresh carrots? I don’t think so. Except, perhaps, the taste of fresh carrots that you’ve just harvested from your own garden.
This year, I harvested over a hundred pounds of carrots grown in just two small raised beds in my backyard. I’ve never grown that many carrots before! Faced with a sudden influx of these tasty tubers, I was left scratching my head as to what I should do with them.
In the past, I’ve been able to store carrots simply by putting them in cold storage, packed in dirt – but I knew I had way too many carrots to do that with this year!
Luckily, I had some old canning recipes to fall back on, and decided that I should be able to all of my carrots so that I could enjoy them throughout the rest of the winter months.
If you have a pressure canner, there’s not a lot of skills required to carrots. In this article, I’ll walk you through all the steps to help you can carrots quickly, efficiently, and safely.
Carrots are staples in my kitchen. Not only are canned carrots great to have in the pantry for stews, soups, and sides, but I’ve also been known to go after a can with a fork and some salt, too!
Like most vegetables, carrots need to be processed in a pressure canner. Many people are daunted by the thought of canning in a pressure canner, thinking it requires a great deal of knowhow and expertise. Once you get the hang of it, however, it’s really not that challenging.
Despite what some people might try to tell you, carrots absolutely must be processed in a pressure canner – you cannot, under any circumstances, attempt to do this in a water bath.
The reason is because the temperatures in a water bath canner simply don’t get high enough to eliminate the danger of harmful bacteria and toxins from forming in the food over time.
This recipe calls for canning carrots using the hot pack process. You can also raw pack carrots, which will take less time. However, no matter how well you pack the jars, the density of the carrots will change and you’ll find that there is some water on the bottom as the carrots rise to the top.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can affect the texture of your carrots. Plus, when you hot pack carrots, you can fit more carrots in each jar.
You can pack carrots into other quarts or pints. I recommend pints, since it’s tough to use up a whole quart jar of carrots if you’re just feeding two people, as is the case in my household.
Plus, when you use a pressure canner, it’s often more economical time-wise to pints. The reason for this is that you can place 20 pints in a pressure canner, while you can only put seven quart jars in the same amount of space.
Remember, if you are canning at altitude you will need to adjust the pressures listed below. If you live higher than 2000 feet above sea level, you will need to increase pounds of pressure by half a pound for each additional 1000 feet.
Canned Carrots Recipe
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Pint jars
- Pressure canner
- Jar lifter
- Stockpots for boiling water
- Canning lids and bands
- Clean towel
- Oven mitts
- Bubble removing tool OR wooden utensil
- 2 lbs carrots per pint
- salt (optional, to taste)
- Begin by thoroughly washing your carrots. The easiest way to do this, if you have a lot of carrots, is to dump them in a bathtub or large sink and then fill the tub up with water. Scrub all the dirt off the carrots. If they were not organically grown, I also recommend peeling them (I skipped this step, since ours are grown organically). This will get any last traces of pesticide off.
- Decide how you would like to cut up your carrots. You can leave them whole if they are small enough to fit into your canning jars, or you can slice them into rounds or diced pieces. I prefer to slice mine into rounds, as they’re easiest to can and to eat this way.
- While you are dicing your carrots, you should wash your jars in a hot rinse in the dishwasher. This will sanitize them. You should also sanitize your bands, but you do not need to do this for the lids. Instead, have a pot of water going on the back of the stove to heat up your lids and sanitize them, too.
- Once your carrots are cleaned and cut up, go ahead and start a pot of boiling water on your stovetop. After it has reached a boil, you can ladle it over your carrots as you pack them in the jars. You can also add a teaspoon of salt to the jars, too – this is optional and doesn’t impact the canning safety at all, just the flavor.
- After slowly ladling your water over your carrots, you can remove air bubbles with a bubble removing tool or a wooden spoon. Do not use metal, as it can etch the glass. Make sure you have about one inch of headspace between the top of the water and the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of your jars to make sure there is no food residue on the outside of the canning jars.
- Secure your canning lids and bands on the jars, tightening them until they are fingertip tight. Don’t overtighten. Fill your canner with three quarts of water.
- Load your jars into the canner, making sure that they do not touch. Put the lid on the canner and turn on your heat, allowing the canner to steam off before you add your weight. This usually takes ten to fifteen minutes to occur, depending on whether you preheated your canner before you loaded the jars. Once steam starts coming through the vent, you should wait for about ten minutes.
- Once you have steamed off your canner, you can add the weight (also known as the regulator). The air vent will pop up within a few minutes as pressure begins to build. Allow the pressure canner to build to a pressure of 10 lbs before you begin timing.
- Process your pints for 25 minutes. If you choose to do quarts, you will need to add an additional five minutes. You should process at a pressure of 10 lbs in your pressure canner.
- Once the jars have finished up in the pressure canner, you should turn the heat off and wait for the pressure to return to zero. Do not open the lid until the pressure has equalized, as you risk seriously burning yourself.
- After the pressure has come back down, you are safe to remove the lid and extract your jars using the jar lifters. Place the jars on a clean towel – don’t place them directly on your countertop. Not only can the hot jars leave unsightly rings on your counters, but the cool temperatures of the counter can cause the glass jars to break on contact.
- Leave your jars to cool overnight, or at least 12 to 24 hours. Try to let them cool in an area where you won’t risk bumping them or where there is a strong draft.
- After the jars have cooled, check to make sure they have sealed (you may hear popping noises as the lids seal). To do this, press down on the lids. If they flex, you will need to store the jars in the refrigerator and eat them within a week. If they stay put, you are good to go.
- Store your jars in a cool, dark location (such as a basement, pantry, or root cellar). You may remove the rings if you’d like, as your jars are perfectly sealed without them. This will reduce the likelihood of rust buildup on the bands.
When I first started canning my own carrots, I worried that they would be mushy. Definitely not the case! If you’ve ever had boiled carrots – which you probably have – then you know that when carrots are cooked in water, they take on a savory, soft texture that’s absolutely perfect.
I would recommend, however, that if you are adding canned carrots to a soup, you wait until just before you are ready to eat the soup to add your carrots.
In most cases, canned carrots will last on the shelf for at least five years. As a general rule of thumb, put your old canned carrots near the front of your pantry shelf and the new ones toward the back so that you can always eat up the old produce first.
It’s also helpful to check the cans each year to ensure there are no signs of spoilage, like leakage or failed seals.
If you liked this carrot canning recipe, please pin it to your Pinterest board for later!
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).